What happens next with Israel

There has been surprisingly little sensible reporting on what Israel is likely to do, in response to the role of NZ in the UN Security Council vote.

As I have previously blogged, Israel did not threaten war. The normally very sensible Patrick Smellie has done a silly article speculating that Israel may launch cyber attacks on NZ. This is just nonsense. Some of his other suggestions may be closer to the mark such as private sector trade missions won’t be allowed.

Let’s start with what we do know. Israel has withdrawn their Ambassador for consultations and has banned the NZ Ambassador from visiting.

This is actually a very serious step for a country to take. In terms of diplomatic responses, this is only below cutting off diplomatic representation.

Most diplomatic issues between countries are dealt with by way of private or public note between foreign ministries. Sometimes this will be elevated to Ambassadors or Ministers or even Prime Ministers.

To give an analogy, NZ has (off memory) only recalled an Ambassador in situations like with Fiji. So Israel regards NZ’s actions akin to how NZ has regarded Fiji.

This means that it won’t just stop with the recalling the Ambassador for consultation. I expect there will be profound negative impact on relations, beyond just the diplomatic.

Israel will of course make decisions based on its national interest, as does New Zealand. If they go overboard with their response, it may backfire in terms of public support.


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